There’s always a condition. Always.
Country music legend George Strait wrote lyrics about a daddy’s relationship with his children: “Daddy’s just don’t love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen.” Strait answers the question about how it is to love: Without end. How do we accomplish a forever love? Is it just a fool’s hope, or a worthy adventure? The answer may cause your eyebrow to rise, but it’s fairly straightforward. You must create a condition where lifelong love is possible.
There’s nothing like a love relationship that just works. These are the relationships that create laughter, quiet, and mesmerized love stares. These are the relationships that don’t cater to – or run from – their flaws, but champion each other in strengths and flaws. These are the relationships that elicit adventure, or the kind of quiet that needs no words, but make the angels pause quietly with them. These are the kind of relationships that can’t wait to unite, made of those that can’t wait to touch. These are the relationships made of those that love when no one is looking and has each other’s back when everyone is. These are the relationships that are strong and hopeful when in conflict, and joyous even as they sleep together. These are the relationships that make the kind of lovers who know more than anyone else: the parts, parcels, nooks, crannies, and pockets of the other’s sense of pleasure, and then supply generous pleasure.
Here’s a Condition – Hit The Brakes!
Maybe you’re thinking, “That is an impossible list!” Seems that way. I’ve been married to my bride for over 20 years and I’ve gotten some things right, and others, well… less right. We love our adventure together, but there are days where our adventure felt more like an endless slide downhill in a car without brakes… Until we realized that we were the problem. We discovered that our brakes were fine, we were simply not activating those brakes. We willed ourselves to speed dangerously down an angry slope. You might identify. Monique and I decided that, in one very difficult, steep, and fast downhill run without brakes … err … when we were not activating the brakes, that we needed a relationship condition to protect us. During that particular crisis we decided to become a together-forever couple. We’d said so during our marriage vows, but we failed to articulate how we would prepare for the long haul. So, therefore to go along with our marriage vows, we decided there and then – that divorce was not an option. We put a condition on our relationship!
You see, everyone has a condition. I don’t want to damage anyone’s soft romantic notions about the power of your love, but I’ve never met a person that could give true unconditional love. In fact, I’m here to tell you it’s just not wise. When I ask couples if there was a “deal breaker” nearly every couple has one, and it was usually “If (s)he cheats on me I won’t stay.” Others have said, “If I just stop loving him/her.” However, most responses related to some form of significant break of trust. “Unconditional” is indeed a noble venture but consider this – conditions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Conditions can actually be a wonderful part of your relationship! Everything from sweepstakes, to contract agreements, to the basics of a law, contains conditions. “You must be 18 years or older to play” is a good condition for some contests. My wife and I have made vows to each other that establish a marriage that won’t break. While that may sound great, to have a condition for a marriage that says “no condition will break our marriage” is essential. There’s always a condition: The condition that will break an accord or vow — or the condition that will keep it whole. Every agreement, vow, or covenant contains safeguards that protect the bond. For those of you who want to protect your vow and hope to keep your love relationships solid, here are but a few tips on how to form a condition that wholly, and securely protects your promises for your relationships:
Keep Up The Conversation
Why? You’re not a mind-reader. You just aren’t. When you assume you already know what he/she will say, you say to them, “I’m not willing to listen to you, I am not willing to relate to you.” Relational couples safeguard their commitment by talking. Unbound assumptions says to your partner that, “I don’t care that you desire my respect.” Breaking an important communication safeguard threatens your most important condition.
Fight To Understand, Not To Win.
The best relators quarrel, and fight. We all grapple with conflicts at home, work, or somewhere else. Another truth is that through conflict we learn how to think critically. The best way to think and feel our way through conflicts with our spouses, partners, and significant others (in other words, our loved ones), is to seek to understand, and continue loving-pursuit of them. When you fight to win, you justify laying the other low, and seek to wholly invalidate (and sometimes ruin) the other person. Make your condition to seek to understand your partner’s point of view, during and/or after the conflict.
Take Responsibility For Your Feelings
You deserve the respect of feeling anything. So honor your feelings and take responsibility for them. I’ve been guilty of blaming my bride for my feelings. You do not need to make that mistake. We all choose the feelings we have. How does one take the responsibility? “I felt angry because I believe I was disrespected. What were you trying to say?” That way you respect them and expect them to take responsibility for their intentions. When you take responsibility, you honor and protect the condition you placed on your vows.
Practice Using Your Feelings Well. Don’t Bottle Them Up
Push yourself to use your emotions well. What happens when bottled-up feelings make their way to the surface? They spill out all at once. Like when a dam breaks, a flood of feelings endangers the recipient of them. And someone who’s been hurt by the emotional dam-break often begins to lose himself or herself, and eventually leads to the loss of the relationship. Bottled feelings are not like fine wine. They don’t get better with age. However, they do threaten your relationship, and thus bottled feelings threatens your vows, and the conditions you’ve set to keep them. Practice offering your feelings the moment they happen, in love.
Practice Makes …
All of this takes practice. Don’t say you’ve “tried it already” because trying is not practice. Be aware that the first time you practice anything, it will be hard, a maybe a little messy. Remember the first time you tried a new skill? Most likely, it was not your favorite experience. But practice will improve your relational ability, and strengthen your love. The aim is NOT perfection. The aim is the to enjoy your relationship, to exercise your vow, and gird the condition you set to guard it. Practice might not make perfect. But it can make beautiful.